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INTERVIEWS 1962-1980

Although the late Roland Barthes says at one point here that he does not like giving interviews, this volume contains 39 of them—and still others, according to an editorial note, may also have taken place. Many of them date from the middle 1970s, when Barthes and his theories attracted popular notice in France; and these tend to be stilted vehicles for the promulgation of Barthes-ian ideas—with interviewer-as-acolyte and Barthes-as-priest. One interviewer asks, for example, "How can this oblique and 'repressive' return of the signified be avoided? How can this emptiness be written without being 'expressed'?" And Barthes answers: "Our present task is twofold. On the one hand, we must somehow conceive. . . how the depth and lightness of the signifier may be expressed contradictorily together. . . ." Elsewhere, too, Barthes feels comfortable enough with his adoring interviewers to make some of his more dubious, oddly naive pronouncements. ("It should be suggested to readers that there are several possible ways of reading, one isn't obliged to read a book in a linear and continuous development. . . . It's amazing: they find nothing wrong with dipping here and there into the Bible, but then they insist that there's no other way to read Guyotat except straight through!") In the later interviews, however, especially in those conducted by the skeptical, bracing, and supple Bernard-Henri Levy, Barthes is shown at his best—leaving behind the doxology of deconstructionism, engaging more in the personal and the human. And, even if much of the material here is near-comically ingrown and jargoned, with interviewers struggling to duplicate Barthes' vocabulary, some readers will find useful, relatively unforbidding introductions to Barthes' ideas—many of which have not worn well—while devout Barthesians will pore over every word.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1984

ISBN: 0810126400

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1984

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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